PLATO Blog Post: An Inside Look at a 2-month Internship for PLATO Testing Students

Josh Augustine and Charla Joseph reflect on their internship with Medavie Blue Cross

The first day, our nerves were shot. We had never had an internship, nor had we worked at a company the size of Medavie. On the commute up, I remember thinking to myself, “I’ll probably be in a back room with a couple other IT personnel.” Boy, was I wrong.

We (Charla & Josh) had shown up early to get a feel for the building; we’ve driven by it countless times throughout life, yet had never been inside. Coming from the rural community that we do, eight stories high is kind of a big deal. Anyway, we go in and meet with our PQA colleague, Mike Trites. For those of you who don’t know Mike, he’s an amazing mentor, the amount of time that guy puts into his work amazed us.

After our meet and greet with Mike, we proceeded to the third floor to meet with Barb, the Manager of Quality Assurance. She was really nice, very friendly, and enthusiastic to have us on board. She then handed over some folders with our names on them; inside the folders were our key cards, along with paper work to fill out and a 52 page, yes, 52 page welcome pamphlet, which included a short history on Medavie Blue Cross, the rest were policies and guidelines.

We were then given a tour of the office and introduced to people who would be working among us. There were a handful of people on the third floor, a good portion of people on the fourth floor and most were on the seventh floor. I’ve never shaken so many hands in such a short amount of time. I was then informed that they had another team in Dartmouth, N.S. So in total, roughly 250 – 300 IT personnel were working on this project/application, that I still hadn’t seen. Funny how I thought I’d be working out of a small closet space.

Shortly after, we were brought to our cubicles, good thing they were by the door; otherwise it would’ve taken me a while to find it every morning. I would assume it was your average cubicle space, five nice size drawers, a trash/recycle can, two monitors, a shelf for my books and a telephone. I’ve never had a cubicle before, so I can’t really give you a ranking on this one.

We then got to meet with Mike again, who gave us our credentials and gave us an in-depth explanation of MAAX (the system we would be working on). The way he described it was, “MAAX is a beast.”

I had to giggle at this, thinking, “A beast? What is so “beasty” about an insurance company’s internal software?”

Turns out, MAAX is a web-based application that is intended to completely replace Medavie’s current legacy eligibility and claims systems.

At this point, I hadn’t seen MAAX but I was eager to dive right in. To my disappointment, there was a lot of catching up to do on my end. I was bombarded with e-modules, guides, glossary terms, demos, and more e-modules.

While we went over the material, Mike invited us to attend a lot of the meetings regarding the next steps to take before the next release date. In this process, we acquired a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into developing test cases, as well as a better understanding on prioritizing said test cases. Most of the meetings went smoothly; other meetings had a lot of debate involved in them, which was mildly entertaining.

Like Mike said, “MAAX is a beast.”

No one is an expert in MAAX; there is an array of departments within Medavie, with each department having its own experts. That alone, would have to be one of the highlights of the internship, the knowledge in a variety of categories. If one person couldn’t help you, they’d know someone who could.

During our second week, we were given test cases to execute, in just about every section of MAAX. The test cases were assigned to us through a program called HP ALM. Medavie uses HP ALM as its tool for managing requirements, test cases, test plans, defects, and reports.  While it technically can integrate to various automation and performance testing tools, I think Medavie tends to use each of those tools in a more stand-alone fashion. 

So weeks later into our time here, we started attending meetings regarding Integrated System Testing, or IST.

During the two weeks of meetings regarding IST, we must’ve met and sat with every department lead involved in the project. Hearing and taking in everybody’s concerns about their departments and what needed to be done, only enhanced our view on what it takes to make a project successful.

In closing, we’d like to thank, first of all, Mike Trites, who is, and I’m sure will continue to be, a great asset to PQA and Medavie. To Keith McIntosh, for believing and changing the world. You’ve given many people at PLATO a second chance to prove their worth in society. Our Instructor Matt Middleton, who truly was a great mentor for the short time he was around. To JEDI for their help in making this all possible. Also to everyone at PQA, it’s an honor to work side by side with such driven people.

Joshua Augustine & Charla Joseph.